Finally the day arrived. I say this after the fact but before it actually arrived I was a little worried about how ballhawk fest would go because I was worried about my streak being broken with so many ballhawks in attendance. Speaking of them, let me introduce to you all the ballhawks in attendance:
1. Garrett Meyer- #5 on the season leaders as of 7/26 and also the furthest traveled of us here coming all the way from Lawrence, Kansas.
2. Alan Schuster- The creator of mygameballs.com and organizer of this whole day long event.
3. Alex Kopp- A student at the University of Maryland who ballhawks really all over the place because he lives in New Jersey.
4. “Flava” Dave Stevenson- A ballhawk native to Baltimore who is very much a regular at Camden Yards.
5. Tim Cook- The second part of the now trio that is Cook & Son Bats’ Blog.
6. Oliver Rowles- Another ballhawk from New York that also usually inhabits the outfields of Citi Field or spring training stadiums when he’s at a game.
7. Zack Hample- Just click his name. If you don’t know him by now that such be sufficient. For the lazy people. He’s caught over 5,200 baseballs and inspired most of those present.
8. Mike Rowles- Oliver’s father and self proclaimed chaperone for the weekend.
9. Ben “…ny Batting Gloves” Weil- Yet another ballhawk from New York that showed up a bit late for softball (this picture was taken after we finished) because of the Lincoln Tunnel, “why are so many people going to New Jersey on a Saturday?”, etc.
10. Todd Cook- The primary unit in the Cook n’ Son trifecta.
-There were various people not int his picture who went to the game itself or were outside my lens.
1. Avi Miller- He just showed up for the game and didn’t show up for any of the pre-game festivities.
2. Jona- Zack’s girl friend who was simply outside of the picture because she too was taking pictures of the pre-group-picture set-up.
3. Jeremy Evans- This was a foreign name to me prior to ballhawk fest. Apparently he is a ballhawk from Pennsylvania who doesn’t have records of any of the balls that he has caught. I got all of this information from his mygameballs profile, I didn’t actually have much time to get to know him. The reason? He showed up at the game after the gates had opened and we were both focused on snagging baseballs.
4. Matt Hersl- He was “too sore” to play softball. He later admitted that he would have played had it not been 110 degrees. That actually was a hyperbole but it was over 100.
Obviously, the ten present and willing to play were not enough for a 9 on 9 softball game. Instead, Alan had devised a sort of Home Run Derby. Here we have Alan explaining the rules:
I don’t remember what the original format was but Alan added the fact that what he had said was merely a draft and anyone could add their own suggestions to it. Here we have everyone collectively having their “wait how are we doing this again?” moment before bombarding Alan with a plethora of suggestions:
This, inevitably changing how we were going to play the game. The rules, it seemed, changed by the half inning until the end of the second inning. This is what we ended up with:
- 7 innings
- 5 players on each team-once Ben showed up in the second in the bottom of the third-. Here is the roster:
- A half inning constituted of every player of the team hitting.
- A person finished their turn when they got one out with both a soft and baseball.
- An out was achieved by any ball that was not hit out of the infield or caught by the opposing team.
- An out could also be achieved if a person failed to swing at a ball within three pitches.
- A ball hit into the outfield uncaught was 1 point
- A ball hit beyond the fence were 5 points
- 7 balls at this game (3 picture because I “gave” four away)
- 49 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 18 straight doing so on the road
- 14 straight games with at least 2 balls
- 6 straight games with at least 5 balls (could I maintain this streak the next day with no batting practice? No one comment on this if you have seen my mygameballs profile)
- 3 straight games with at least 6 balls
- 2 straight games with at least 7 balls (sorry have to get them out of the way while I still have them)
- 7 balls* 20,311 fans= 142,177 competition factor
- Time at game 4:18- 9:46= 5 hours 28 minutes
My first game at Camden Yards ballhawking and guess where it began:
You may be thinking: “Wait Mateo, isn’t Union Station in Washington D.C.” You would be right to ask that question because it indeed is. I was staying in D.C. to avoid lodging costs.
Long story short, I departed six hours before game time and got there two and a half before it (with a Subway break in between):
Isn’t that a majesty. For the record, that itself is not the park it is the warehouse that sits behind the right field standing room section. You can also see in that picture that the sun is beating down at this moment. Keep that in mind.
I was the third one into the left field seats and as a result I found three Easter Eggs. The first two spots (approximately) are here in this picture:
The third in this one:
The ballhawks out there can probably see who beat me to the seats but here are the two IDs. Man in orange going up the stairs: Matt Hersl. The man in pink: Zack Hample. Between the three of us, I think we found maybe ten Easter Eggs. It was just so hot that the Ushers didn’t check for baseballs. In the background with floppy hat on, you can see “Flava” Dave Stevenson in the background searcing for his own Easter Eggs.
Now let’s use that last picture to show how things were like with upwards of five ballhawks in attendance (not including me). I will use that last picture again to show what happened when a righty hit a ball into the left field stands:
The dotted arrow is the path of the ball and the solid arrows are all our different paths to the ball. Obviously you can’t see me in the picture So my arrow simply points out from the bottom of the picture but all others have arrows coming from them and a second arrow if they changed directions. I think that Matt Hersl was the first to the ball but it was on the ground but in the scrum he had with Flava Dave and another two fans (Zack had pretty much given up on the ball) it rolled out to his right. Whoever was to his right basically had to reach down and pick the ball up before they realized it had moved positions. Who was to his right? ME!! That gave me my fourth ball of the day.
The Angels were then coming out to throw so I veerryy sloowwly back up the staircase to change elsewhere (don’t want the Angels seeing me). Slowly because I knew the Orioles were still hitting and didn’t want to give up a chance at any Home Runs that could have landed in the seats. Sure enough, Mark Reynolds blasted a ball:
I was in the cross aisle and heading out but when the ball landed close to the top of the section I: dropped my backpack, bolted down the steps (an aisle lower than the ball had landed because they tend to trickle down), and ran over to the spot where the ball had landed. I don’t remember if it trickled down or not but I did pick it up and proceeded to change into my Angels gear to the congratulations of an usher. I was in love with Camden Yards already.
The Angels started throwing and I was careful not to go down too early because it has been my experience that if you go before the first throwing pair starts waining you are stuck waiting for people to end at the dismay of all the balls that are getting hit into the outfield. Eventually, I moved down to the foul pole and was going to ask Hisanori Takahashi for his ball but he did not end up with it and moved away. Keep this in mind. Finally Jordan Walden and Bobby… something or other, finished throwing and I asked Jordan for a ball. He threw his ball to another kid but then picked up another ball and threw it to me. I now had 6 on the day and was eyeing my record of 7/double digits because it was very early in Angels bp but then the left field seats got crowded. It was weird. As you can see in the picture above it wasn’t really “crowded” but because of this being the game before ballhawk fest many ballhawks showed up early and thus the gaps between the railings were filing up. Being my usual over-pensive self I moved to the flag court to avoid the ballhawks’ competition. Actually that’s only half true. I also moved out there because it was about 107 degrees (no hyperbole) and I had started to see tinsel like sparkles in the corners of my eyes. Here was my best attempt at a picture of myself during this time:
That picture was once I got back in the concourse. I can only imagine how exhausted I must have looked before that. Combine those factors with the fact that I had banged my thigh into a seat earlier made it time to take a slow walk over to right field. By the way this was my view in the flag court:
Why was I playing back where I couldn’t see the batter? The split second advantage that I would gain by seeing the ball on its way up would be lost in the fact that I would be going backwards instead of forwards. Whatever, it didn’t matter because no balls came up there.
I then went into the center field section and hid myself as best I could from Jordan Walden, who was shagging in right field, because he had already thrown me a ball. I stayed in center for the duration of batting practice and first got Hisanori Takahashi to throw me a ball in left center field because I asked him in Japanese. He was about a microsecond away from tossing the ball in before he heard a familiar language which led him to turning around and tossing the ball up.
My second ball came from a ground rule double hit by Russell Branyan- assist by the rubberized warning track- which bounce up and rattled around in the seats for a bit before I picked it up. There were a couple of those but there was an extreme lack of mobility in the center field section. I ended bp with eight balls but gave the last Branyan ball to a kid in that center field section. I stupidly didn’t get a picture of her or remember what she looked like but she was close by when I got the ball. I might have gotten double digits had the Angels not ended bp at:
6:07? My watch is also 4 minutes ahead so that made it more like 6:02 that they Angels already left the field. Anyway, I stayed out in the flag court for the duration of the game as there were two righty pitchers but no balls came even close due to two offensively challenged line-ups taking the field:
Such is life. I ended the day at eight.
- 8 balls at (7 in this picture because I gave one away)
- 48 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 13 straight with at least 2 balls
- 5 straight with at least 5 balls
- 17 straight games on the road with at least 1 ball
- 8 balls* 24,823 fans= 198,584 competition factor
- Time at game 4:21- 10:01= 5 hours 40 minutes